Roadtrip to Bay of Islands

We decided to chance the weather and drive up to Paihia on the weekend. On the way, we stopped by Orewa for brunch. Orewa is a little seaside town and a retirement destination, with its waterfront apartments and pedestrian mall. My previous two jaunts into Orewa for food had not ended well, so I was more than a little apprehensive. However, we chanced upon Oliver’s Café (340 Hibiscus Coast Highway, Orewa) with its cheerful yellow sign. The place was packed, a good sign, plus the food in the display cabinet looked fresh and very appetizing.  I have finally found my Orewa pit stop, – the flat white is great (comes with a small piece of nutty, fudgy brownie) and the potato cakes are made with shredded potato, fantastic!

The farmers market at Kerikeri is held every Sunday, rain or shine. This time, it was definitely wet… and cold. But the punters were there, with their dogs and remarkable well-behaved children (perhaps shivering children are quiet children…). A good cup of coffee definitely helps, and a piece of blueberry pancake with custard, cream and blueberry compote ($5) is a good way to start the morning, especially with a jazz band to help you along the way.

There were the usual vegetables, but I was impressed to see cherimoyas (related to the custard apples that we grew in Malaysia), jerusalem artichokes, Maori potatoes and lots of avocados (both Hass and Fuerte).

There were also a boutique cheese-maker, artisan sausages and chutneys (tamarillos!) and preserves.

If you are into all things retro, make sure you stop at Pete’s Place (460 Kerikeri Road), both a diner and a pioneer museum.  This place is simply amazing. The diner is straight out of 50’s America, and the pioneer museum is obviously a massive labour of love for Pete, – he has put together an interesting historical account of New Zealand home, school, shops, and work.

I cannot go to Kerikeri without stopping at Makana Confections (504 Kerikeri Road). The kitchen is behind a glass wall, so visitors can view the confection making in progress. Makana makes the most divine chocolates, biscuits and candies. Their macadamia butter toffee crunch makes Almond Roca look insipid. Even without the free tasting, this place is wonderful.

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